Residents of Denmark returning from UK must take Covid-19 test within 24 hours of travel

The Danish government has introduced a requirement for all flight passengers travelling from the United Kingdom to provide a negative Covid-19 test taken within the last 24 hours prior to boarding their flights.

Residents of Denmark returning from UK must take Covid-19 test within 24 hours of travel
A passenger at Heathrow Airport in December. Photo: Niklas Hallen/AFP/Ritzau Scanpix

The new restriction was announced by the transport ministry and is effective until January 17th. It applies to both Danish citizens and foreign residents of Denmark, while foreign nationals who live in the UK remain banned from entering Denmark.

Children up to and including the age of 12 are exempted from the requirement.

“The government is following the situation closely and we can see that a large number of the passengers arriving on flights from the United Kingdom have not accepted the offer of a (coronavirus) test. That gives an increased risk of more of the particularly contagious variant of Covid-19 coming into Denmark without us detecting it,” transport minister Benny Engelbrecht said in a statement.

“We are therefore making a ban on flying with passengers from the United Kingdom who have not tested negative,” the minister added.

The new rules forbid airlines departing the UK from allowing passengers on board without a negative Covid-19 test, according to the ministry statement.

The ban applies to all passengers, and airlines are responsible for ensuring nobody is allowed to board without a negative test. The Danish Transport, Building and Housing Authority is responsible for checking compliance.

The Danish foreign ministry is currently advising against all travel to the United Kingdom due to the mutated, faster-spreading variant of Covid-19.

All foreign nationals who live in the UK (including British citizens) are still banned from entering Denmark, in a continuation of rules introduced in December confirmed by the justice ministry.

That means all UK residents, unless they are citizens of Denmark, will “as the clear principal” be denied entry to Denmark, the Ministry of Justice said in a statement on Sunday.

The travel restriction has been extended until January 17th.

Brits who reside in Denmark and Danes who live in the UK are allowed to travel to Denmark if they show a negative test at the time of travel, as outlined above.

“We must do what we can to limit the cases of the mutated virus from the United Kingdom in Denmark. The government – like many other countries in the EU – has therefore decided to extend current entry restrictions for persons who reside in the United Kingdom,” justice minister Nick Hækkerup said.

The decision to tighten travel restrictions against the UK was taken last month due to the spread of a mutated form of Covid-19.

The new variant of the coronavirus is believed to have first appeared in London and Kent and is reported to be up to 70 percent more contagious than other forms. Based on what scientists know so far, the variant does not appear to cause more serious illness than other kinds of coronavirus.

READ ALSO: Denmark to study infectiousness of UK Covid variant: SSI

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IN NUMBERS: Has the Omicron Covid-19 wave peaked in Denmark?

The number of new Covid-19 infections fell on Saturday for the second day in a row, following a three-day plateau at the start of last week. Has the omicron wave peaked?

IN NUMBERS: Has the Omicron Covid-19 wave peaked in Denmark?
Graffiti in the Copenhagen hippy enclave of Christiania complaining of Omicron's impact on Christmas. Photo: Philip Davali/Scanpix

How many cases, hospitalisations and deaths are there in Denmark? 

Denmark registered 12,588 new cases in the 24 hours leading up to 2pm on Saturday, down from the 18,261 registered on in the day leading up to Friday at 2pm, which was itself a decline from the record 28,283 cases recorded on Wednesday. 

The cases were identified by a total of 174,517 PCR tests, bringing the positive percentage to 7.21 percent, down from the sky high rates of close to 12 percent seen in the first few days of January. 

The number of cases over the past seven days is lower than the week before in almost every municipality in Denmark, with only Vallensbæk, Aarhus, Holseterbro, Skanderborg, Hjørring, Vordingborg,  Ringkøbing, Kolding, Assens, Horsens, Thisted, and Langeland reporting rises. 

Hospitalisations have also started to fall, with some 730 patients being treated for Covid-10 on Saturday, down from 755 on Friday. On Tuesday, 794 were being treated for Covid-19 in Danish hospitals, the highest number since the peak of the 2020-21 winter wave.

The only marker which has not yet started to fall is the number of deaths, which tends to trail infections and hospitalisations. 

In the 24 hours leading up to 2pm on Saturday, Denmark registered 28 deaths with Covid-19, the highest daily number recorded since 20 January 2021, when 29 people died with Covid-19 (although Denmark’s deadliest day was the 19 January 2021, when 39 people died). 

How does Denmark compare to other countries in Europe? 

Over the last seven days, Denmark has had the highest Covid-19 case rate of any country in Europe bar Ireland. The number of new infections in the country has climbed steadily since the start of December, apart from a brief fall over Christmas. 

So does this mean the omicron wave has peaked? 

Maybe, although experts are not sure. 

“Of course, you can hope for that, but I’m not sure that is the case,” said Christian Wejse, head of the Department for Infectious Diseases at Aarhus University Hospital. “I think it is too early to conclude that the epidemic has peaked.”

He said that patients with the Omicron variant were being discharged more rapidly on average than had been the case with those who had the more dangerous Delta variant. 

“Many admissions are relatively short-lived, thankfully. This is because many do not become that il, and are largely hospitalized because they are suffering with something else. And if they are stable and do not need oxygen, then they are quickly discharged again.” 

Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said during a visit to an event held by the Social Liberal party that the latest numbers made her even more optimistic about the coming month. 

“We have lower infection numbers and the number of hospitalisations is also plateauing,” she said. “I think we’re going to get through this winter pretty well, even if it will be a difficult time for a lot of people, and we are beginning to see the spring ahead of us, so I’m actually very optimistic.” 

She said that she had been encouraged by the fact that Omicron was a “visibly less dangerous variant if it is not allowed to explode.”